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How to Vacation in Clearwater Beach, Florida

By Jeff O'Kelley, eHow Contributor How to Vacation in Clearwater Beach,  Florida thumbnail

Craigslist Treasure CoastAnnually ranked as one of the best beaches in the world, Clearwater Beach, Florida is the perfect vacation spot for families, couples and singles. Offering miles of sugar white sand, a wide range of hotel options, world class restaurants and countless entertainment offerings, Clearwater Beach is a popular destination for travelers. Although it can be busy during peak travel times such a spring break, Labor Day or the Fourth of July, you can always plan your trip to avoid the crowds. Read on to learn how to vacation in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Things You'll Need

  • Guidebook or map of Clearwater Beach
  • Suntan lotion
  • Bathing suit

Instructions

  • 1. Understand that your first concern will most likely be where to stay during your trip. Clearwater Beach has numerous hotels, vacation condos and home rentals to meet most budgets. The beach is separated into two sections--the south end with its many resorts and private beaches and the north end which is a more public beach. Both areas have pros and cons, but it will ultimately be decided by your vacation goals. If you want to find a hotel that offers everything, where you don't have to leave to property to find restaurants and entertainment, look for accommodations at one of the resorts on the south end of the beach. You won't have to leave the property for most forms of entertainment, but you'll be somewhat segregated from the locals. If you'd rather mix with the average Floridian, try to book one of the numerous hotels on the north end of the beach, near Pier 60. This will put you in the middle of the action and keep you from having to drive most places. On the south end, try out Shepard's Beach Resort, Marriott Suites on Sand Key or the Sheraton Sand Key. If you'd prefer the north end of the beach, check out the Hilton, Royal Camelot or Sand Pearl Resort, all located on Mandalay Avenue, north of Pier 60.

  • 2. Scope out the local restaurants. There are many choices on the beach that offer fresh seafood, bar grub, burgers or even sushi. Check with your hotel concierge or front desk for a local guidebook or possibly even some money saving coupons. Most of the restaurants on the beach are pretty good, so don't be afraid to try something new. Ask hotel employees or locals on the street for suggestions. Some of the local institutions are Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, Island Way Grill and Shepard's Waterfront. Keep in mind that there is a lot of new construction on the beach, so there will be new places opening soon.

  • 3. Once you have sorted out your culinary options, you will probably want to look for some entertainment. As one of the top tourist beaches in Florida, as well as the world, Clearwater Beach is full of fun things to do. Within a few blocks of Pier 60, which is the center of activity, you will find parasailing, dolphin cruises, deep sea fishing charters, Jet ski rentals, live music, art galleries, shopping and even a pirate cruise for the kids. In the evenings, Pier 60 offers an open air market and live music on the beach. Consult with the activity director at your hotel for suggestions and new attractions.

  • 4. Since the beach is the biggest draw, be sure to save some time to spend lounging on the beach. The beach itself is extremely wide, spanning almost 100 yards is some sections. You can find beach cabanas for rent, daily volley ball tournaments, and it's even a great place to look for lost shipwreck treasure. The best time to find shipwreck items is after a major storm has churned up the ocean bottom If you're not up to anything strenuous, you can simply spend time lounging on the beach, soaking in the sun.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get to the beach early, as it will get busy by noon.

  • Rent a beach cabana for a great way to escape the hot Florida sun without leaving the beach.

  • Check several hotels and the Clearwater Beach Visitors Bureau for discounts or seasonal specials.

  • If you want something quiet, book a hotel at least a few blocks from the Pier 60 area.

  • Don't forget sunscreen. On some days, you can easily burn in less than 15 minutes.

  • Parking is somewhat limited on the beach. Leave your car at the hotel and walk to avoid searching for a space.

  • You can't take glass on the beach, so be sure to bring only plastic drink bottles.

  • Don't feed the birds. You will regret it.

  • Be careful of the rip tides and listen to the lifeguard for warnings about stingrays or other issues.

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Jeff O'Kelley

Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.

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